Stinky feet are really an embarrassing problem for anyone and everyone. You hesitate to take out your shoes in front of others. Sometimes, the condition is so bad that the foul odor can be noticed even when you are wearing your shoes on. People of all age groups including small children can get this problem. It has been found that men are more prone to stinky feet as compared to women. There is a misconception that those people who do not maintain proper personal hygiene get smelly feet. However, it is not always the case and clean feet may also turn smelly.
What Causes Feet Odor?
Just like body odor, the real cause of stinky feet is sweat. In other words, your feet emit foul odor because they are sweaty. Sweat production is a natural mechanism to regulate body temperature. On exposure to high temperature, the sweat glands release sweat, which is secreted on the skin surface. When the sweat is evaporated from the skin surface the body temperature cools down.
Your feet sweat more than any other part of the body. There are a large number of sweat glands in your feet. So, whenever, your body is feeling hot, it tries to lose heat by secreting sweat from the feet first. You may be surprised to know that the sweat thus produced, is actually odorless. The odor is produced when the chemicals and fatty components of the sweat are broken down by the bacteria present on the skin surface and isovaleric acid is formed. This organic acid has a horrible smell. The bacteria that cause this bad odor thrive well in warm and moist environment. When you are wearing shoes, the temperature of your feet rises, which means more sweat production. This becomes an ideal condition for bacterial overgrowth. As the number of bacteria increase on the feet, the odor gets stronger.
Hyperhidrosis, a problem of profuse perspiration, and excessive sweating triggered by hormonal changes or stress are two of the major causes that contribute towards stinky feet. Wearing of synthetic shoes or socks often aggravate the problem further. In this condition, sweat does not get evaporated. As it is trapped in the feet, bacteria continue to multiply in numbers. Dirty feet often become more stinky. If the feet are not cleaned daily, then the bacteria are not washed off and they continue to live on the skin, which makes the feet smell even more.
Smelly Feet of Children
Smelly feet in small children are the same as that of adults. However, in some children, stinky feet have a stronger smell which is quite similar to rotten eggs. This happens when a specific bacteria named Micrococcus sedentarius breaks down the sweat on their feet. This bacteria produces sulfur compounds along with the usual organic acids that other bacteria produce.
How to Get Rid of Stinky Feet?
Stinky feet does not require any medicinal treatment. It can be resolved with some home treatment. They are as follows:
Keep the Feet Clean
Use antibacterial soap to cleanse the bacteria and sweat residues from the skin surface. Apply the soap all over the feet and give special attention to areas in between the toes. Let it sit on your feet for a minute and then wash off with water. Wash your feet with this soap every day.
Use Tea Bags
Synthetic materials do not allow your skin to breathe. Therefore, you must avoid wearing shoes and socks made of synthetic material. Try to wear leather shoes and cotton socks as much as possible. The component named 'tannic acid' present in tea bags fights off foot odor really well. Put 6-8 tea bags in a pan of boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes. Then add some cold water into it and soak your feet in this water for half an hour. This should be done daily for a week for complete cure.
Apply Antiperspirant Roll
Roll it all over the feet before wearing the shoes. It has aluminum chloride hexahydrate that can minimize the effects of perspiration and will also suppress the odor. Thus, it can be said that it is a better option than a regular deodorant because it can control the foul smell as well as the wetness of feet.
If you have the problem of smelly feet, you must not wear the same pair of shoes every day. Keep two pairs of shoes that you can wear on alternate days. When you are at home, you should not wear any shoes at all. This will ensure proper evaporation of sweat from the feet and minimize bacterial growth.